During its passage through the Senate, the Children’s Law will incorporate a whole chapter destined to banish the use of force from the security measures that may be applied in juvenile centers. The groups, at the proposal of the PSOE, will introduce this week a series of amendments to reduce to the maximum limitations of rights such as isolation or restriction of movements, to prevent physical immobilization from being applied to children under 14 years of age, and to totally prohibit tie these youngsters to beds or anchors, whatever the circumstance.
The new regulation, which seeks to put an end to the thousands of cases of mistreatment, harassment or sexual abuse suffered by Spanish children and adolescents, will modify four laws to establish that coexistence and safety in juvenile centers will be guaranteed with preventive measures or de-escalation (verbal appeasement techniques), and that only in “exceptional” and high-risk situations, “as a last resort”, will containment measures be authorized for the minor.
These exceptional situations will be those of imminent and serious danger to the life or integrity of the minor or of a third person, which materialize in crises such as the attempted escape, the direct risk of self-harm or injury to others, serious damage to facilities, or active resistance that “involves a serious alteration of coexistence or serious violation of the rights of other minors.”
- Maximum Exception.
Wrist restraint will only be used in extreme cases and with children with behavioral problems
In spite of everything, these crises will always be solved in the first place with dialogue and emotional management (de-escalated), which will have to be carried out by a specialist in conflict resolution, and only if everything fails can we move on to the so-called «measures of containment”.
Last resort actions will be applied with “the least possible intensity”, for “the time strictly necessary” and respecting the dignity, privacy and rights of the child; They can only be agreed upon by the director of the center or by whom he delegates; they will be motivated and they will be actionable; and they will always be included in the record of incidents and will be immediately communicated to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Among the containment measures are the physical limitation of spaces or movements between the minor and the person or objective that generates the conflict, the provisional isolation (which may not exceed three hours and will require the accompaniment of an educator), the search (to performed by at least two professionals of the same sex and in a place without the presence of third parties if it requires bodily exposure, which may only be “partial”), and the physical interposition of a technician between the minors in conflict.
Lastly, and only “as a last resort” and “under strict protocol”, may the minor be physically immobilized by professionals specialized in “personal restraint techniques”. If the use of force is necessary, a doctor will be required to carry out an examination within a maximum period of 48 hours and issue a report. This limit measure, in addition, will be inapplicable to any boy under 14 years of age and to pregnant residents or nursing mothers.
What the new law for the comprehensive protection of minors will completely prohibit, whatever the age of the young person, the crisis in which he is immersed or the type of center in which he is, is the so-called mechanical restraint, which consists of tying the boy with straps, handcuffs or shackles to a bed, a fixed object or other furniture. The most radical measure that will authorize the new standard for physical immobilization will be the restraint by the wrists with an approved system. It can only be applied in an extreme case (vital risk or similar) and in centers for minors with behavioral problems. It will be done with a strict protocol, never for more than an hour, and the immobilized person will always be accompanied by an educator.
The package of major limitations on security measures in juvenile centers to be introduced by the Senate will be added to other specific actions to prevent cases of violence against children and adolescents sheltered in this type of facilities that already contained the text approved by Congress . One of the most significant changes was the obligation to have protocols for the early detection of all violence, but with special attention to preventing human trafficking or the sexual abuse and exploitation of resident minors, which aim to avoid repetition. scandals such as cases of prostitution of adolescents sheltered in protection centers in the Balearic Islands.
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